Superfood diets aren’t as healthy as you think, says nutritionist – WTSP.com

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“What I want to do is warn anyone who’s willing to listen, that this could be why something’s not working well for you right now,” says one nutritionist.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Is your healthy diet doing more harm than good? The idea may sound crazy but a nutritionist with a master’s in public health says her life changed for the better when she removed some items that are thought to be superfoods from her diet.

Sally Norton says her health ailments started at an early age.

“I was already starting with arthritis and back issues as a 12-year-old,” Norton said.

The pain progressed to crippling foot problems, sleepless nights, and brain fog along with a hysterectomy in her 40s. She said she was constantly focused on what she thought was a healthy diet but there seemed to be no positive payoff.

“I was vegetarian for 8 years and then vegan for 8 more years. That’s 16 years of living on perfect organic homegrown, home-cooked vegetables and beans and tofu. It was a disaster for my health.” She explained. “Plants not only are missing several nutrients that we have to have for all forms of health including brain health and good sleep and so on, but plants also come with chemicals that we don’t really fully understand.”

Oxalates are natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Norton said that “when oxalic acid is in the bloodstream, it’s affecting the vascular walls, your capillaries, veins and arteries. It’s also affecting your white blood cells which help you fight infection and protect you.”

Calcium oxalate is notorious for being the main ingredient in 80 percent of all kidney stones, Norton said.

“Oxalate comes from oxalic acid, the parent compound that the plants make and it’s a chemical that grabs minerals. It forms these little crystals; it grabs calcium for example and becomes calcium oxalate.”

Using this knowledge, Norton started to experiment with her own diet. She said some of the worst food offenders for oxalates include spinach, chard and beet greens, while “other lettuces and greens are fine.” 

When it comes to fruits, Norton said “raspberries and blackberries are on the high side, so you have to really limit your portions of those.” The three worst nuts for oxalates are: almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Potatoes also contain a higher amount of oxalates.

Norton says watered-down versions of the food items move oxalates straight into your bloodstream, so almond milk or green smoothies can have more extreme effects in some people.

“We have research that shows the single spinach smoothie is enough to cause inflammation in your bloodstream, that it causes damage to your immune cells, just one smoothie within 40 minutes of eating it,” Norton said.

Norton removed all foods high in oxalates entirely from her diet and she said some of the positive impacts were almost immediate.

“The body can heal itself by not eating sweet potatoes, I fixed thin bones,” she said. “My sleep disorder cleaned up within 10 days and I noticed within 6 months my feet were okay and I could now wear heels. Thirty years of subpar feet, I could not go barefoot even to wash the dishes at the sink. Now, I can run barefoot on pavement.”

For Norton, she says the key is education and choices when it comes to oxalates.

“What I want to do is warn anyone who’s willing to listen, that this could be why something’s not working well for you right now,” She explained. “It can affect almost any tissue in the body, and it affects each of us in a slightly different way. Some people don’t see a lot of symptoms and the symptoms are so common because they involve pain, mood issues, urinary tract things, jumpy bladder, waking up at night. Some people really get away with these longer than others, but you have no way to be sure. We don’t have a good way to measure how much this is building up, how much this is undermining your function of your cells.”

Norton suggests trying some simple swaps to see how you feel. Try coconut or real milk instead of almond, swap spinach for arugula, water crest or other lettuces and use other root vegetables or cauliflower instead of white or sweet potatoes.

“I would stay away from the nuts as a general rule and definitely leave spinach in the garbage can.”

To learn more about Norton’s story visit www.sallyknorton.com

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